CCM will provide local audiences with a first glimpse of tomorrow’s opera stars during the 2011 Opera Scholarship Competition running from 10 a.m. – 3:45 p.m. on Saturday, April 2 in Corbett Auditorium.

25 top young artists will compete for nearly $135,000 in tuition grants and $75,000 in other named awards, including the Corbett Award, Italo Tajo Memorial Award, Andrew White Memorial Award, Seybold-Russell Award, Artman/Straub Award and John Alexander Memorial Award.

Admission is free and open to the general public and audience members will have a chance to weigh in on this year’s competition with the introduction of a new “Audience Favorite” award.

The Opera Scholarship Competition is open to current and incoming voice students. A panel of judges composed of world-renowned opera industry professionals will select the winners. The judges’ panel for this year’s competition includes:

  • Neal Goren, Conductor, Artistic and General Director of Gotham Chamber Opera
  • Diane Zola, Artistic Administrator of Houston Grand Opera (HGO)
  • Marianne Cornetti, internationally recognized mezzo-soprano

The winners will be announced at a reception in the Baur Room at 4 p.m., following the conclusion of the competition.

About CCM Opera
The Department of Opera at CCM boasts one of the most comprehensive training programs for opera singers, coaches and directors in the United States. Students at CCM work with some of the most renowned teachers and artists active in opera today.

For the second year in a row, CCM had two singers advance to the semi-finals of the Metropolitan Opera National Council (MONC) Auditions. CCM’s Mainstage and Studio Series of Opera have received some of the National Opera Association Production Competition’s highest honors throughout the years, taking home six of the 18 non-professional prizes awarded this year.

CCM Opera graduates have performed on the stages of the world’s greatest opera companies, including Cincinnati Opera, Metropolitan Opera (New York), Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, Royal Opera (London), La Scala (Italy) and more.

About the Judges

Marianne Cornetti is recognized internationally as one of the leading Verdi mezzo-sopranos in the world. She has appeared as Amneris in Aida, Azucena in Il Trovatore and Eboli in Don Carlos at theatres including the Teatro alla Scala, Metropolitan Opera, Vienna State Opera, Bayerische Staatsoper, Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Teatro Comunale in Florence, the Arena di Verona and the Teatro San Carlo in Naples. In 2005 she sang her first Wagner role appearing as Ortrud in Lohengrin at the Teatro Giuseppe Verdi in Trieste and continued her excursion into this repertoire with her debut as Brangäne in Tristan und Isolde at the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma. In the autumn of 2006 she made another significant role debut, appearing as Lady Macbeth in Verdi’s Macbeth at the Opera de La Wallonie. Her verismo heroines include the Principessa di Bouillon in Adriana Lecouvreur, Santuzza in Cavalleria Rusticana and Rosa in Cilea’s L’Arlesiana, which she sang to great acclaim at Carnegie Hall with the Opera Orchestra of New York.

In September of 2009 Cornetti made her debut at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden as Eboli in Don Carlos. She debuted at the Hamburg State Opera as Santuzza in Cavalleria Rusticana and sang her first performances of Abigaille in Nabucco at the Teatro Massimo in Palermo. She returned to the Teatro Comunale in Florence in Adrianna Lecouvreur and returned to Royal Opera for Amneris in Aida, which she sings this summer at the Arena di Verona along with Azucena. Among Cornetti’s future projects are her return to the Metropolitan Opera as Azucena in Il trovatore, her return to the Teatro alla Scala as Santuzza in Cavalleria Rusticana, Adriana Lecouvreur at the Gran Teatro del Liceu in Barcelona, and Don Carlos in Bilbao.

Diane Zola began her career as a singer. She attended the University of Michigan where she received her Bachelor and Masters’ degrees in Vocal Performance and pursued Doctoral studies at the University of Texas at Austin. She also attended the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria, the Aspen Music Festival and the Music Academy of the West. As a dramatic soprano, Zola performed the roles of Lady Macbeth in Macbeth, Donna Anna and Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni, Georgette in Il Tabarro and Fiordiligi in Cosi fan tutte with opera companies in Texas, Michigan, California and in Europe.

Zola became the Director of the Houston Grand Opera Studio, the internationally acclaimed training program for singers, pianists/coaches in August, 2000. She began her career in Arts Management at Columbia Artists Management as a managerial associate, started her own Artists Management Company and in June, 1995 joined Trawick Artists Management as an Artists Manager, managing the international careers of singers, conductors and stage managers.

Zola has given master classes and consultations for singers in Moscow, New York City and at major opera houses and music festivals including Houston Grand Opera, Minnesota Opera, Austin Lyric Opera, Baltimore Opera, San Francisco Merola Program and Utah Opera. Additionally she has presented classes at Curtis Institute of Music, University of Houston, Rice University – Shepherd School of Music, University of Michigan, Academy of Vocal Arts, Manhattan School of Music and Yale University School of Music. She has served as an adjudicator for numerous vocal competitions including the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. As a member of Opera America, she has written articles, moderated panel discussions and been a member of various panels regarding young artist and career decisions. She has also served as co-chair for the Vocal Caucus of National Association of Performing Artists Managers and Agents.

Neal Goren is the Artistic Director and Conductor of the innovative Gotham Chamber Opera in New York City. In addition, he is a frequent guest conductor active throughout North American and Europe. Notable appearances include Respighi’s La bella dormente nel bosco for the Lincoln Center Festival and Spoleto Festival USA, New York City Opera conducting their revival of The Magic Flute, and with Opera de Nantes and Angers, France for The Turn of the Screw. He also attracted critical and popular notice for his performances of Krasa’s Brundibar for the City University of New York. As Artistic Director of Gotham Chamber Opera, he has conducted critically acclaimed productions of Haydn’s Il Mondo della Luna, Mozart’s Il sogno di Scipione, Milhaud’s Les Malheurs d’Orphée, Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas (with period instruments), Martinu’s Hlas lesa and Les Larmes du Couteau, Sutermeister’s Die schwarze Spinne, Handel’s Arianna in Creta, and Il Signor Bruschino for the company. Last season, he displayed his skill as an innovative programmer, leading productions of Astor Piazzola’s tango operetta Maria de Buenos Aires in coordination with the David Parson Dance Company, Scenes from Gypsy Life featuring music by Jana_ek and Dvorak, and Ariadne Unhinged featuring music by Monteverdi, Haydn and Schoenberg. As a recital accompanist, Neil Goren has collaborated with a number of opera’s leading singers, including Leontyne Price (as her exclusive musical collaborator), Kathleen Battle, Harolyn Blackwell, Haken Hagegard, Thomas Hampson, Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, Aprile Millo, Hermann Prey and others.

He has been a member of the faculty of the graduate opera department of the Mannes College of Music since 1992, the Accademia Rossiana in Pesaro, Italy and the Harlem School of the Arts. He also served on the Board of Directors of the Richard Tucker Music Foundation from 1991-2003. Goren is a graduate of Reed College, where he earned his B.A. He continued his musical studies on a fellowship from the Watson Foundation, and studied for two years in London with Jacqueline du Pré and Geoffrey Parsons. He has studied conducting Marcia LaReau, piano with Irwin Freunlich and Joan Brown, and attended Interlochen Arts Academy, the North Carolina School of the Arts, Oregon Episcopal School.

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